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God's Providence in Life's Prison

Study: A Series Through the Bible  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is in Control. God will Provide…
A Sentence we all way and use to give assurance to others…
too often fail to live by
I want to start by comparing Providence vs Miracle
MIRACLE - God SUSPENDS natural law to do something outside of natural law, without natural law, and against the grain of natural law.
Walking on water
Raising dead people
whatever our Lord did. It suspends natural law, supernaturally invades time and space, and acts in a divine way that has no human explanation.
Providence, in my mind, is a greater miracle than a miracle because it is God accomplishing His own ends and His own purposes, not by suspending natural law, but by taking all the elements of natural law and blending them together in a masterful way so that He achieves His purpose but never interrupts the natural course of things.
This is providence.
It is not God suspending circumstances and acting, but taking all the situation, all the people, all their activities, all their thoughts and words, and somehow pulling all of that together to create exactly what He wills to do.
That is a far more massive miracle than just suspending natural law and acting.
Every day of my life is a day full of providence, and it’s a different providence every day.
It’s something that makes me think: “Wow, how did that happen? Whatever made those circumstances come together to bring it to this point?”
I think the most thrilling thing about the Christian life is providence—seeing it unfold day in and day out.
If you’re in tune with the Lord and in tune with His Word, you’re really seeing it unfold and seeing God at work in ways that have no human explanation.
EVERYTHING AROUND YOU – All arranged by God’s Providence
Cannot say – “GOD CAUSED” as so many wish to blame Him for their situation…
If someone has sinned against you…Cannot say God caused that…
Providence – God is at work in EVERYTHING
It may be to test your faith in Him…
For Joseph, we see an incredible work of God’s Providence that I believe we can apply to our own lives.
Gen 37 - Joseph Hated by his brothers, conspired to kill him… God rescued Joseph… Sold as a slave to Potiphar

1) No matter the situation, God’s Grace cannot be taken from you.

Genesis 39:1 ESV
1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.
Potiphar was an important official in Pharaoh’s court.
The two titles given to him, “official of Pharaoh” and “captain of the guard,” are both fairly general in nature.
A military identification is favored by the reference to the prison being in the house of the captain of the guard (Gen. 40:3).
Genesis 39:2 ESV
2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.
Genesis 39:3 ESV
3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.
Genesis 39:4 ESV
4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.
Genesis 39:5 ESV
5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.
Genesis 39:6 ESV
6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
In contrast to the detail in the last chapter that God put Judah’s sons to death, here the Lord is with Joseph, and he prospers (39:2).
As in the relationship between Jacob and Laban where Laban recognized that the Lord’s favor was with Jacob (30:27), Potiphar sees the same in Joseph and trusts him with responsibility.
As a result, the blessing side of the covenant continues to be realized on a small scale as Potiphar and his house are blessed through Joseph (39:5–6). But his success is short-lived.
Our enemies may strip us of outward distinctions and ornaments; but grace cannot be taken from us.
They may separate us from friends, relatives, and country; but they cannot take from us the presence of the Lord.
They may shut us out from outward blessings,
rob us of liberty, and confine us in prisons;
but they cannot shut us out from communion with God,
from the throne of grace,
take from us the blessings of salvation.
Joseph was blessed, wonderfully blessed, even in the house where he was a slave.
God’s presence with us, shows us that we are blessed and a blessing
Good, godly men & women are the blessings of the place where they live.
The prosperity of the wicked is, one way or other, for the sake of the godly.
Here was a wicked family blessed for the sake of one good servant in it.

2) No matter the situation, Godly Wisdom can never be OVERCOME.

This next section, we’re tempted to look only at the steadfastness of Joseph in the face of temptation…
There is no question that many of us could grow and mature if we accepted the challenge to be like Joseph.
There is much to admire about this man.
He possesses an integrity to which we can all aspire.
Of course, the same could be said of Abraham Lincoln.
As interpreters of the Bible, we cannot stop at the question, “Does this person have admirable qualities that I could benefit from emulating?”
We must go to the next step of asking, “Does the Bible present the character of this person as a model to be emulated?”
If not, then the admirable qualities we may observe in a Joseph or a Moses or a David are no different from the admirable qualities of any other individual we read about in history or literature.
What makes the Bible different from all of these others is its authoritative teaching.
As we have mentioned before, though every detail of the text is inspired and has a role to play, the details do not carry authoritative teaching on their own.
Solomon is not offered as a model of setting up an administration (1 Kings 2);
Esther is not offered as a model for how to change government policy (Est. 4–7);
David is not offered as a model for how to face your giants (1 Sam. 21:10
Though each is successful and receives no condemnation for how they conduct themselves.
We must take our lead carefully from what can be determined to be the agenda of the text.
If we stop at the actions of Joseph, we miss the actions of God… What is GOD doing in & through Joseph… in and through YOU?
Genesis 39:6 ESV
6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
“Now Joseph was Handsome”
Genesis 39:7 ESV
7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.”
Genesis 39:8–18 ESV
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”
The account of the seduction of Joseph shows him in a positive light.
The details are given in such a way as to confirm Joseph’s unquestionable innocence.
Beauty either in men or women, often proves a snare both to themselves and others.
This forbids pride in it, and requires constant watchfulness against the temptation that attends it.
We have great need to make a covenant with our eyes, lest the eyes infect the heart.
When lust is given power in our lives, decency, and reputation, and conscience, are all sacrificed.
Potiphar’s wife showed that her heart was fully set to do evil.
Satan, when he found he could not overcome Joseph with the troubles and the frowns of the world, for in them he still held fast his principle, assaulted him with pleasures, which have ruined more than the former.
But Joseph, by the grace of God, was enabled to resist and overcome this temptation; and his escape was as great an instance of the Divine power, as the deliverance of the three children out of the fiery furnace.
This sin was one which might most easily ensnare him.
The tempter was Potiphar’s wife, one whose favour would help him forward; and it was at his utmost peril if he slighted her, and made her his enemy.
The time and place favoured the temptation.
To all this was added frequent, constant urging.
The almighty grace of God, through Godly Wisdom enabled Joseph to overcome this assault of the enemy.
He would not offend his God.
He does not lead Potiphar’s wife on or allow himself to enjoy her company at any level.
He is compromised only by a desperate and spiteful act, supported by boldfaced lies that none can contest but the accused.
Her summary accusation identifies him as a Hebrew slave brought to “make sport” of her (39:17).
(1) This statement represents an accusation against her husband, which puts him on the defensive by attributing to him devious motives.
(2) The Hebrew word translated “make sport” is the same one that provides the root for Isaac’s name (to laugh) and that has been repeatedly used as a motif in the text.
(3) Note that once again Joseph is being identified by his cloak that has been taken from him.
Here it is supposed to incriminate Joseph.
The difference is, of course, that Joseph is being falsely accused.
If the casual reader were asked to assess the character of Joseph, his sterling moment would undoubtedly be his persistent refusal of the advances of Potiphar’s wife.
We can admire Joseph and aspire to be as firm in our resolve in the face of repeated temptation.
But has the narrator given us this account for that purpose?
In the context of the discussion of the book of Genesis and its purpose, the integrity of Joseph is not a major point the author pursues at any length.
In most cases, Joseph’s conduct is capable of being interpreted in a number of different ways.
No clear model is presented, and no exhortations or statements of approval from the narrator urge us to go and do likewise. NOWHERE in the Bible are we told to be like Joseph.
The narrative of Genesis 39 fits in the larger scheme portraying how God, in his providence, brings his plans to fruition through what appear to be the most devastating of circumstances.
This is the reason that the narrator has told the story of Potiphar’s wife, for he gives it a purpose in the larger scope of the book… NOT TO SEE JOSEPH AS A GREAT CHARACTER, BUT TO SEE GOD AS THE CHARACTER BUILDER

3) No matter the situation, God is ALWAYS in CONTROL.

Potiphar’s Wife, having tried in vain to make Joseph a guilty man, sought revenge on him. She threw modesty out the door to seduce him, now she his lying on him to her husband.
Those that have broken the bonds of modesty, will never be held by the bonds of truth.
It is no new thing for the best of men to be falsely accused of the worst of crimes, by those who themselves are the worst of criminals.
Genesis 39:19 ESV
19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled.
Genesis 39:20 ESV
20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
Potiphar believe his wife over Joseph...
Chose the prison because it was probably the worst of all… Highest of Criminals kept there
Genesis 39:21–23 ESV
21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
Joseph was owned and righted by his God. He was away from all his friends and relations; he had none to help or comfort him; but the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy.
Those that have a good conscience even in a prison, know they have a good God there, as well. A GOOD GOD WHO IS IN CONTROL… EVEN USING THE BAD SITUATIONS FOR HIS GOOD.
When I play the computer in chess, it is an exercise in futility and inevitability.
Since I am not very good at chess, I usually find that the computer continually puts me into positions where I have to respond with certain moves, yet those very moves lead inevitably to further the computer’s strategy and ultimate victory.
In the rare cases that I feel free to choose a move that furthers my game strategy, I usually discover that my choice is not a particularly good one.
If I inadvertently try to make an illegal move, the computer does not allow it.
If I make a stupid move, the computer makes me pay for it as it weaves my stupidity into its strategy.
If I make a move with underhanded intent, the computer usually uses it to its own advantage.
Compared to God, we are all like bad chess players competing against a computer.
There are differences, of course.
God is not just in it to win
God’s moves are not mechanically programmed.
In one sense it can be said that when he wins, we win. He is driven by love and compassion.
Yet, just as in the illustration, we can at times feel caught in the current of the events that surround us, not understanding how we can be winning when it feels so much like losing.
When life seems to be going terribly wrong, as it did for Joseph on a few occasions, it is difficult to affirm God’s sovereignty.
In Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”, the narrator encourages the imprisoned Joseph not to despair because “I’ve read the book and you come out on top.” Unfortunately, neither Joseph nor any of us have that benefit.
Our stories are written as we live them out, and none of us knows what the ending will look like.
Too often we may feel as if we are flailing in this life, waiting for God to bring our work or talents to fruition.
But God wants us to be faithful (as, for instance, Joseph was in Gen. 39) where we are, in whatever phase our life or ministry may be in.
Our service to God is not just comprised of the end result of our life or ministry; it includes the process by which we get there.
God gave Joseph favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison; he trusted him to manage the affairs of the prison.
A good man will do good wherever he is, and will be a blessing even in bonds and banishment.
Let us not forget, through Joseph, to look unto Jesus, who suffered being tempted, yet without sin; who was slandered, and persecuted, and imprisoned, but without cause; who by the cross ascended to the throne. May we be enabled to follow the same path in submitting and in suffering, to the same place of glory.
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